Godley Head Track
The Godley Head walkway is for those who want a sense of adventure with their stroll. Commencing from the foot of a mighty hill (or mountain, as I always claim) at Taylor's Mistake Bay, the Godley Head track sweeps around the curves of the northern edge of Banks Peninsula, passing baches untouched by time, military buildings, atop a coastline which feels primeval.
The sweeping coastal views and its position on the edge of the earth (or so it feels) makes for a dramatic feel, great for long chats, proposals, and feeling like you aren't in Kansas anymore.
Its appeal is well known, on a good day it can be as crowded as Riccarton Mall, but the expanse means there is enough room for all. Just know your lane and let anyone who looks more energetic than you sneak past in the narrower sections.
Even though this walk is one close to my heart - its a destination, not a stroll. With the drive out and back, a roughly three hour round trip and some gazing at the view time, its a full morning or afternoon. But thats part of its charm and and sometimes a short expedition is as good as a holiday for clearing the head.
Park at the Taylor's Mistake beach carpark. From the carpark you can jump on the track, or you can take a short stroll along the beach as far as you can go to the right (if looking at the sea). Just mind getting any sand in your shoes - its not a short walk ahead. The track is signposted but there are a few customisations available. We often brave the hill just beyond Boulder Bay for the incredible viewing platform it provides, then turn around. Lets call that the base walk but see Variations for the loop version and some alternatives.
Its a moderate walk. You can obviously turn around at your leisure but if you follow the track until one of the more formal turnaround points, its a decent hike. It undulates - some parts are pleasantly flat, others are nearly vertical (though I've been told thats a major exaggeration but it feels like that because its towards the end of the outward portion of the walk).
The walk is along the side of a cliff so its spectacular. Its off road, there are some cattle stops and it varies between moderately flat and fairly hilly.
Its fairly exposed so if its windy, wrap up warm. If it's sunny, remember the sunscreen and perhaps a hat (though a well fitted one if its sunny and windy). In any conditions, drink bottle is essential. And maybe snacks. Also - camera.
The panoramic views out to infinity, which you get the pleasure of viewing the entire way. A quick (or lengthy) paddle at Taylor's Mistake beach at the end to cool off.
As a moderate to slow walker, this would be a roughly 3 hour round trip (accounting for time to admire the view).
For a longer walk, from the peak after Boulder Bay, press on (down and then) up to Godley Head, to the historic military buildings and a rather spectacular view wherever you turn your head. You can still turn around here and return the coastal way you came, or you can carry on round via the Crater Rim Walkway and shoot down the Anaconda in a real life game of snakes and ladders. We set off on this loop one day not actually being 100% sure it was a loop (given a suspiciously placed gully), or whether we were going to have to retrace all (increasingly weary) steps. It is a loop, or I would still be up there, having refused to walk back.
The people are mostly lovely up there - though be patient with anyone in the uphill patches (I mostly mean me, be patient with me). We once ended up being absorbed into a walking bus of some sort of touring group (who were at the start of the trip and didn't know the members of their party). We all stopped and watched a tiny dog who had gone off on a solo adventure valiantly race back round the track to find its pack. We laughed and I still don't know what conference we were meant to be attending.
Cliffs, some unfenced - keep an eye on anyone in your party who is prone to wandering.